TOP OF THE AGENDA – Iran, Russia, Turkey Announce Joint Declaration on Syria

A joint statement issued by Iran, Russia, and Turkey following a meeting in Moscow said the countries were “ready to assist” and become guarantors (DW) of an agreement in the making between the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups. The United States and the United Nations were not invited (NYT) to the negotiations, which came after Ankara and Moscow brokered an evacuation deal for the city of Aleppo. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said “the best solution is a political solution” in Syria (Anadolu). The three countries added that they would collaborate in fighting terrorism (Tehran Times) from the self-proclaimed Islamic State and affiliates of al-Qaeda.


“We see the way the Russians have played this game in Syria before, but nevertheless I think the Turks remain interested, for a variety of reasons, in working with the Russians, because the Russians clearly have the influence to help with the evacuation. And the Turks, it’s laudable, out of solidarity and horror as to what’s going on in Aleppo, have opened up [the] border and made way for 80,000 people from Aleppo to come to Turkey and seek safety there. But the full extent of cooperation between the Russians and the Turks on Syria is, I think, limited to this moment, as well as the Russians giving the Turks permission to move into Syria in late August,” CFR’s Steven A. Cook says in this interview with the Atlantic.

“With the rise of the jihadists of the Islamic State, who seized territory in Syria and Iraq, the United States changed priorities. Washington led a coalition to bomb the group, also called ISIS or ISIL, and worked closely with Kurdish forces fighting the jihadists on the ground. But that policy angered Turkey, which saw the United States arming fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., which both Turkey and the United States consider a terrorist organization. Over time, Turkey’s fight against Kurdish militants took precedence over its desire to see Mr. Assad replaced,” Ben Hubbard and David E. Sanger write for the New York Times.

“Turkey has long used its improving relations with Russia as a lever towards attaining better negotiating terms with the European Union and strengthening its position in NATO. Turkey’s real focus has always been these two institutions, regardless of what Turkish officials say in heated public rallies. Although this assassination is a significant second blow to Turkish-Russian relations after the downing of the Russian jet, it is unlikely to impair these relations,” Akin Unver writes for Al Jazeera.